The Master of Arts in Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology, the Planned 30-Credit Program, and the Certificate in Consciousness, Transformation and Mindfulness are programs that explore the nature, role, and development of human consciousness and transpersonal phenomena. What makes these programs unique is that we have holistically integrated different perspectives into the coursework - psychological and spiritual, western and eastern, epistemological and clinical.
Students are first introduced to the historical origins and the theoretical and methodological foundations of Transpersonal Psychology. We then examine diverse theories and concepts concerning the structures and states of consciousness and the processes that may lead to transpersonal phenomena such as awakening, enlightenment, and unity consciousness. As a hands on exercise, students themselves will engage with meditation and somatic-awareness practices aimed at re-establishing the unity of mind-body consciousness. Through these practices students will learn to access their own intuition and embodied wisdom, as well as gaining transpersonal insights. Practices of mindfulness and presence are cornerstones of the program.
This program offers the foundation for discovery and empowerment that leads to greater fulfillment, purpose, and effectiveness in students' personal and professional lives as well as in their clients’.
The Master of Arts Degree program in Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology and the Planned 30-Credit Program have three major components:
First, students explore the nature of reality from scientific, philosophical, and psychological point of views, with an emphasis on the oneness of the universe and the inter-connectedness of life, creativity, synchronicity, and flow. As part of this exploration they will compare and integrate the official scientific paradigm (essentially mechanistic and reductionistic) with the emerging holistic-systemic paradigm. Coming out of this, students will also discover that on a smaller scale there are cultural and psychological equivalents of these two macroscopic paradigms which also need to be integrated.
In the second component students examine the awakening and transformation of consciousness into higher stages and states of development. This includes studying the theoretical framework of selected authors - Jung, Assagioli, Maslow, Grof, Tart, Wilber, Washburn, Loevinger and others. Students also examine the many different factors which can produce such awakening – from a serious illness to a sudden mourning, from an existential crisis to a deliberate pathway of awareness. In this respect students will learn practices that help bring forth awakening and will develop their corporeal, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual awareness. This is achieved through exercises in meditation, somatic awareness, self-observation and dialogue. They also learn how to face any negative side effects that such a transformation can produce when it happens to an unprepared individual and/or in a social world that is very skeptical and even scared by transpersonal phenomena and non ordinary states of consciousness.
Finally, the program brings these two components together to focus on how to help unaware (and thereby unhealthy and unhappy) individuals awaken from their sleeping consciousness. Students in our program are prepared to assist these individuals who are beginning to discover and develop their hidden talents and life purposes. For those students who wish to pursue the Transformative Coaching elective course, the program also enables the application of coursework into the development of an effective coaching practice specifically addressed to personal and transpersonal development. For those students who are more interested in collective issues like ecology, sustainability and social justice, the program offers an elective course in Creativity and Consciousness which focuses on the importance of art and creativity as means to awaken sleeping individuals and humanity as a whole.
The programs is addressed to:
- Women and men who are seeking a fulfilling and empowering profession in the fields of psychology, personal development, spiritual growth.
- Healthcare professionals (counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, alternative practitioners, nurses, physicians, etc.) who wish to expand the boundaries of their professional knowledge and skills to encompass such issues as altered states of consciousness, spiritual/mystic experiences, and personal/transpersonal development.
- Life coaches, business leaders, and organizational developers who wish to enhance their profession with powerful psychological and transformational theories and tools.
- Teachers and educators who have a holistic conception of education and would like to help students develop not only their knowledge but also their concept of being a whole person, full of self-awareness and life skills.
It is worth noting that Transpersonal Psychology focuses more on personal and transpersonal/spiritual development than in curing diseases, thereby applying coaching methods and tools more so than counseling or psychotherapeutic ones. For this reason, the program incorporates a 2-credit course in “Transformative Coaching for Personal/Transpersonal Development” which is part of a full coach training program entitled “Coaching With Spirit.” The Coaching With Spirit program is accredited by the ICF (International Coach Federation). The optional completion of this program grants students eligibility to apply for the Associate Certified Coach Credential conferred by ICF. This program does not prepare students to become licensed psychology professionals. However, some students may use the program’s content in free-lance professions (e.g. coaching) focused on enhancing personal and transpersonal/spiritual development. Other students may use the program as a way to better understand themselves and manage their personal growth. Some will use the program as a first step to clarify their interest in Psychology and move toward a master’s or doctoral program in other psychological fields as social work, marriage and family therapy or counseling psychology at another institute of higher education.
"Transpersonal Psychology is concerned with the study of humanity's highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness”.
Lajoie, D. H. & Shapiro
“Transpersonal psychologists attempt to integrate timeless wisdom with modern Western psychology and translate spiritual principles into scientifically grounded, contemporary language. Transpersonal psychology addresses the full spectrum of human psychospiritual development – from our deepest wounds and needs, to the existential crisis of the human being, to the most transcendent capacities of our consciousness”.
“The importance of consciousness (and under many respects even its existence) have been denied for centuries by science, due to its materialistic and reductionistic assumptions. This blindness affected also psychology, whose most influential currents considered consciousness unnecessary for explaining human behavior and, even worse, labelled as unscientific those who tried to study it. This dogmatic belief has produced very negative consequences not only on the development of science but also on the health of individuals and societies.”
In the last few decades, interest in consciousness and related phenomena has significantly increased, thanks to several relevant changes in science and culture. Nonetheless, at most universities Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology are still considered naive and unscientific fields of inquiry. At The Graduate Institute, the influence of consciousness and transpersonal phenomena have been core areas of study since the Institute’s founding, and inspire several programs of study, the leading of which is the Master of Arts in Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology.
Classes are held every two or three months on an extended weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Students have traveled from as far at British Columbia, Canada for this program! Call for suggestions on how the program's schedule can work for you!
Allan Combs is a Professor of Transformative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies. His background is in consciousness studies, neuropsychology, and systems science. He also holds appointments at the Saybrook Graduate School and the Assisi Conferences, and is Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Allan is author of over fifty articles, chapters, and books on consciousness and the brain, including The Radiance of Being (2ed): Understanding the Grand Integral Vision; Living the Integral Life, winner of the best-book award of the Scientific and Medical Network of the UK, with a foreword by Ken Wilber; Changing Visions: Human Cognitive Maps Past, Present, and Future, with Ervin Laszlo, Vilmos Csanyi, and Robert Artigiani; Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences, edited with Robin Robertson; Nonlinear Dynamics in Human Behavior, edited with William Sulis; Synchronicity: Through the Eyes of Science, Myth, and the Trickster with Mark Holland; and Mind in Time: The Dynamics of Thought, Reality, and Consciousness, with Mark Germine and Ben Geortzel. He is co-founder of the Integral Foundation and The Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences, Co-Editor of the Journal of Conscious Evolution, Associate Editor of Dynamical Psychology, and serves on the Editorial Board of Science & Consciousness Review. He was the winner of the 2002-2003 National Teaching Award of the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs, and in the same year the held the UNCA Honorary Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship. He holds a Ph.D. in Biopsychology from the University of Georgia. Visit his website at sourceintegralis.org.
Bonnitta Roy is an independent scholar, international presenter and award-winning author. Before earning her masters degree at TGI, she was already considered a pioneer in her process approach to evolutionary theories of consciousness. She won an award by identifying the key characteristics of a new mind which we can see emerging with the complexity sciences today. She applies her models to help organizations become more open and participatory, enabling workplaces to become more authentic to the whole experience of being human. She is passionate about the living world of animals and nature, as mutual participants with us in the unfolding of our planetary potential.
Carrie E. Neal comes to the table as an integral thinker, making connections between diverse fields of study, and finds ways to connect the ethereal with the practical. She brings her interest in design thinking, strategic analysis, facilitation, social justice, and wellness to every project she works on. Carrie's career has been multifaceted. She has been working for the last 23 years in a variety of roles and contexts with schools, small companies, large institutions, NGOs, and creative enterprises. Carrie is an ICF credentialed coach, holds an MAT in Art Education and a MA in Media Studies.
Dr. Tom Murray is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Currenlty his primary research is in the are of supporting social deliberative skills in online contexts, and in intelligent tutoring systems in mathematics. He has also done research in the areas of Cognitive Tools, Adaptive Computer Learning Environments, Online Collaboration, Ethics, and Knowledge Engineering. He is also publishes scholarly papers in the field of Integral Theory realted epistemology and applied philosophy. Murray has degrees in educational technology (EdD, MEd), computer science (MS), and physics (BS). He is on the editorial review boards of two international journals, the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, and at Integral Review as an Associate Editor.
Guthrie Sayen created and leads Coaching With Spirit, the ICF-accredited coach-training program offered through The Graduate Institute; he also creates and leads advanced training programs for coaches and faculty at Leadership That Works, an ICF-accredited coaching school; and he co-created and offered an advanced training for coaches at the True Purpose Institute, dedicated to serving change agents, messengers, and visionaries. Guthrie mentors coaches at all levels of their careers from beginners to seasoned masters. In his private practice, he works with wounded healers, helping them do for themselves what they are called to do for others. He also helps seekers come into the presence of the Divine, so that they can live their soul's purpose. His mission is to end suffering on this planet. His website is www.BridgetotheDivine.com.
Classes in the MA in Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology meet on-site four or five long weekends per year (Fri-Sun) for a period of 24 months, plus one full week in each of two summers. Optional live teleclasses occur in the months when the cohort is not meeting. In addition, students engage in a 90-hour mentorship to acquire hands-on learning and experience outside of the classroom.
The MA program utilizes an integrated curriculum, where course content is delivered holistically across each of the program’s class sessions.
Courses and Descriptions
Certificate in Consciousness, Transformation and Mindfulness includes these courses:
CS 501: Stages and States of Consciousness: Catalyzing Adult Developmental Growth - 3 credits
PP 506: Positive Self-Realization and Transcendence - 2 credits
Planned 30-Credit Program includes all courses below except:
CS 508: Personalized Learning and Guided Mentorship Experience
CS 509: Culminating Action Research Project in Consciousness Studies
This course provides students with a basic introduction to human consciousness and the nature of its evolutionary transformation. Models of adult development and transformation continue to evolve, and students learn the foundations and current issues of this discussion. Models include Ken Wilber's Integral AQAL model, Robert Kegan's constructive-developmental theory model, and the models of development designed and promulgated by Susanne Cook-Greuter, Bill Torbert, and Jenny Wade. Students study methods of catalyzing their own developmental growth and that of others.
The study of the nature of beliefs and how they can be empowering in manifesting a vision and life purpose is the subject of this course. Students first identify and explore paradigms of consciousness and beliefs that have influenced the development of Western civilization from the Classical (Greek) period to postmodern societies. The dialectic between the Cartesian-Kantian assumptions underlying the dualistic, dis-enchanted, flatland modern mind, and the Neoplatonic-Hegelian-Jungian depth psychological assumptions of a unitive, participatory, co-creative universe is explored and seen as a major source of societal cognitive dissonance. The nature of a participatory universe is examined from the perspective of intention and manifestation of individual and collective visions, missions, and life purposes. Important to making powerful intentions is an understanding of the principles of manifestation, which include understanding the role of emotional states. Students learn to apply these principles to bring conscious awareness to hidden beliefs and underlying assumptions while leading their clients to higher vibrational levels, thereby co-creating powerful intentions and desired manifestations.
Epistemological and ontological reality is explored, beginning with a philosophical inquiry into the relationship between consciousness and matter, noting the worldviews of dualism, materialism, idealism and pansychism. Panpsychism is then related to the process philosophy of A.N. Whitehead, and how it in turn relates to quantum mechanics. The course also explores the principles of self-organization, chaos, complexity and holism, and their implications on culture and society. Particular note is made of the transition from a Newtonian, deterministic, clockwork universe to a profoundly uncertain and relativistic universe. Students are also exposed to the study of new sciences through inquiry into Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic resonance theory, David Bohm’s implicate order theory, Ervin Laszlo’s quantum vacuum field and information theory, and the holographic universe theory. The phenomenon of synchronicity is of particular relevance to this study. Students explore the impact of these new sciences on leadership, organizational change, and extraordinary ways of knowing.
This course includes the study of the interrelatedness of the physical body and consciousness. An important extended capacity is that of the ineffable quality of presence. Presence is developed through somatic awareness, centering and self-observation. Students practice somatic awareness through listening to their bodies, engaging in body scans and meditating with the body. The role of martial arts in a body-mind-heart practice provides a deep understanding of presence-based movements and interactions. Learning to listen with an integrated body-mind-heart is essential in the development of trust and intimacy when co-creating a relationship. These practices quiet the mind allowing access to one’s inner embodied wisdom, authenticity and intuition.
This course explores the arts for the access they provide to broad realms of consciousness. Light, rhythm, and form, as expressed in art, music and dance are considered for their value in generating meaning through intuitive, emotional, aesthetic, and somatic interactions. Students examine prominent art of both ancient and contemporary cultures as a means of analyzing the evolution of human consciousness. In addition, creativity, in all of its forms, is investigated from the perspective of overcoming obstacles to the expression of one's own authentic voice. Twyla Tharp's complex thesis of the creative habit speaks to the need for both inspiration and discipline to make creativity part of one's everyday life. Students also learn and experience Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's positive state of consciousness he named "flow," a state in which people experience deep enjoyment, creativity and a total involvement with life. Exercises that allow for the expression of the creative self in a state of flow are included.
This course examines core principles of transformation within the context of psychological and psychospiritual development. Students undertake intensive research from indigenous wisdom traditions to the esoteric schools of Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, and Kabbalah to the contemporary spirituality of American Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta (nonduality), and Wilber’s Integral Spirituality. States of consciousness as described in the Wilber-Combs matrix are explored, along with experiential practices to develop inner awareness and growth. Students engage in the Jungian psychospiritual practices of active imagination and shadow work with implications for their own self-development. Finally, the importance of “letting go,” and the development of the “unconditioned mind” are explored. Students continue to learn techniques for cultivating mindfulness and presence in light of these psychospiritual traditions.
One of the most successful and time-honored methods of learning involves direct interaction between a master and apprentice in a specific field. The experience of mentoring occurs when a notable senior of goodwill and expertise agrees to shepherd and support a junior in the various processes that facilitate learning. Mentoring provides learners the opportunity to observe the behaviors, skills, and accomplishments of experienced professionals. In a personal learning environment, mentors and learners often develop distinctive relationships that promote understanding, enable meaningful dialogues, and enhance success and competency. In contemporary parlance, the mentoring process embraces the functions often referred to in terms of coaching, apprenticing, interning, and guiding. Mentors provide program participants a valuable training support system that enables personal and professional growth and development. They are chosen on the basis of their insight, generosity, expertise, communication skills, resources, and intellectual and cultural strength.
The Culminating Project is an action-based research inquiry or meta-analysis intended to correlate with the mentorship experience. It is a student-driven initiative that is supported by educative feedback provided by the Program Coordinator. The Culminating Project constitutes the final course of the Consciousness Studies program. It represents three credits of independent research in a field or subject of personal interest that has emerged during the course of academic study.
The Culminating Project provides students the opportunity to refine and demonstrate their understanding of a particular area related to the evolutionary transformation of consciousness, to explore in detail a specific topic, and to exemplify their knowledge, ability and skills as independent researchers. Students complete a comprehensive report at the level of sophistication and efficacy of a Master’s thesis that establishes a foundation of knowledge, documents their research, presents an overview of findings, analyzes and synthesizes perspectives and interpretations, evaluates the learning process, and proposes outcomes and conclusions. The Culminating Project also serves as the basis for group dialogue, as each student formally presents his or her report to the cohort. Successful completion of the Culminating Project confirms learning throughout the Consciousness Studies program in accord with the program’s mission and goals.
This course integrates selected adult developmental growth theories (explored in previous courses of the program) with a robust coaching methodology. The purpose of this course is to provide the aspiring coach with theoretical and practical tools to facilitate the unfolding of the client’s own inner strengths and potential and, thus, enhance the client’s performance and attainment of his/her personal goals.
The course content is accredited by the ICF (International Coach Federation) and incorporates its Core Competencies, with special attention given to standards-based practices. In this regard students will be introduced to the four cornerstones of coaching - people are naturally creative; all parts of a client are welcome; the client sets the agenda; coaching focuses on the client not the problem. They will learn and practice how to listen, to design and ask powerful questions, and to outline a basic coaching session, including establishing the coaching agreement, establishing trust, maintaining presence, and practicing direct communication.
Students will also learn how to:
Help the client to welcome the inner “protectors” that have reservations about change
Connect clients to their vision
Set a resonant goal that draws the client into their vision
Uncover what is “getting in the way” of manifesting the vision
A core content unit of this course focuses on the concept of perspective change and its transformative power, introducing students to techniques specifically designed for helping clients explore multiple perspectives on inner and outer reality. Another relevant content unit focuses on self-acceptance and, more specifically, how can we help the client accepting himself as he is and thus giving himself permission to honor and actualize his potentials.
This course illustrates the historical origins and the theoretical and methodological foundations of Transpersonal Psychology, showing how this approach emerged (together with humanistic psychology) as an alternative to the two dominant currents in psychology at the time – behaviorism and psychoanalysis – which, although different in many respects, are quite similar in neglecting the psychological relevance of human aspects such as values, affections, motivations, intentionality, consciousness, transcendence and the search for the meaning of life.
Students will also be introduced to the foundational concepts and assumptions within these branches of Psychology, extending from human potential to human needs, from motivations to self-actualization, from states of consciousness to stages of development, from transcendence to transpersonality. Particular emphasis will be given to the interrelated constructs of multiple personality and sub-personality (as espoused by authors such as C.G. Jung, R. Assagioli, H. Stone and S. Stone and others), and to adult personal and transpersonal development (as espoused by authors such as E. Erikson, J. Loevinger, S. Cook-Greuter and others).
This course provides an overview of the historical, philosophical and theoretical foundations of Positive Psychology, with particular emphasis on its humanistic roots. The course outlines the origins, purposes and characteristics of Positive Psychology, focusing on series of shifts that have occurred in the last 2-3 decades: from focusing on cure to focusing on care; from focusing on health to focusing on wellbeing; and from focusing on wellbeing to focusing on happiness. Program participants will be introduced to selected model frameworks that make up the foundation of Positive Psychology, clarifying the fundamental difference between hedonic and eudemonic conceptions of happiness. Students will also be introduced to the strengths and limitations of Positive Psychology, encompassing it in the wider framework of Integrative Psychology.
This course is an introduction to the view that posits an open and inclusive (i.e., Holistic) vision of the world as being the most meaningful and effective framework for accessing emotional wellbeing and happiness. Course content includes a review of the current, dominant, scientific paradigm of fragmentation, materialism and reductionism, and delineates the epistemological and ethical limitations this approach engenders.
This course is grounded in Positive Psychology’s basic assumption that wellbeing and health can be obtained not only by curing diseases, but also by identifying, developing and addressing unexploited resources already present in individuals, groups and organizations. The overarching goal is to clarify the distinctions between reducing diseases and improving wellbeing, and to understand how to attain this improvement by developing metacognitive and psycho-social skills of interaction. The course introduces students to selected skills which have been proven by empirical research to be most conducive for promoting wellbeing and happiness: (i.e. Self-awareness, Resilience, Self-efficacy, Optimism, Hope, Courage, Wisdom, Inner harmony, Assertiveness). Students will also be introduced to the interrelated topics of flow experiences, expanded states of consciousness, transcendence and self-realization, and to those methods and techniques that facilitate the attainment of such states. Course content includes basic information and techniques on how to process “negative” emotions (i.e., anger, sadness, fear, guilt, shame, embarrassment etc.) as well as positive emotions such as love, joy, and gratitude. Students will also engage in mindfulness, meditation and yoga exercises addressed to develop the non-judgmental (first “witness”) capacity that is essential for creating and sustaining emotional wellbeing and happiness.
Based on the humanistic psychology concept of self-actualization, and grounded in Maslow’s Theory of Needs, this course promulgates self-realization as an indispensable requirement for wellbeing and happiness in both hedonic and eudemonic models. The overarching goal of the course is to enable program participants to understand the distinctions between becoming someone and realizing oneself, i.e. from the common meaning of self-realization (i.e., socioeconomic attainment) and the humanistic psychology meaning (i.e., focused on human potential development). Students will be introduced to the concepts of false self and true self, and to the theories of selected authors who have studied the psycho-pathogenic role of personality distortions. Program participants will also be provided an overview of the personal development process, and to the related theories. Course content will include an overview of two fundamental factors for self-realization: a) self-awareness as an indispensable tool for discovering one’s own talents and potential; and b) unconditional self-acceptance as an indispensable condition for allowing oneself to develop those talents and potential. In essence, the course will orient students to effective techniques for facilitating the discovery of one’s own talents and potential, and for identifying and transforming any irrational beliefs that may limit or hinder development.